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Joining Forces 

A collaboration between Inland Northwest cancer care providers aims to streamline treatment and provide patients with the latest advances in cancer therapies

click to enlarge MARK BEAUCHAMP
  • Mark Beauchamp

Three providers have joined forces with the goal of elevating care for cancer patients seeking treatment in the Inland Northwest.

The regional InnerPacific Alliance for Cancer Care, which consists of CANCER CARE NORTHWEST, KOOTENAI HEALTH and PROVIDENCE HEALTH CARE, aims to offer integrated, comprehensive, multidisciplinary oncology services through the collaboration.

The alliance isn't an acquisition or merger, but a collaborative effort between the three cancer care providers. It strives to provide patients with the latest advances in cancer therapies and cutting-edge research, says Warren Benincosa, CEO of Cancer Care Northwest.

"The access to those providers for the patients has greatly improved, so instead of going clinic to clinic, they can get it all under one roof," Benincosa says.

The alliance launched its first initiative — a radiation oncology program — in January 2015. Now, all inpatient and outpatient radiation oncology services for the alliance are provided by Cancer Care Northwest, and patients are able to receive treatment from a single provider that coordinates services at eight locations throughout the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene areas.

The program has a team of experts that includes 30 oncologists and nine advanced practice professionals, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

For health care teams who care for cancer patients, the alliance promises to allow more coordinated patient care, elevate clinical outcomes, and expand program offerings. In addition, all three parties are committed to providing care to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

The alliance intends to use the collaborative model to offer expanded services, Benincosa says. Currently, they're working together to expand a program for treating patients with blood cancers, including leukemia and myeloma.

"We knew if we could do radiation oncology, we could do so many other things," he says.

Patients should be able to continue seeing their same doctors — although there may be times when he or she works with other specialists in the alliance — but they will work together to develop the course of treatment. Billing also has been streamlined, Benincosa says.

"It's all coordinated and orchestrated very well by doing this together," he says. "That is the beauty of it. The integration piece is so much better."

The alliance may also mean expanded resources to conduct research collaboratively.

"We're looking at what we can do together in our research program," he says. The hope is that collaboration will lead to even more robust research.

"It does keep the providers on the cutting edge of what is the latest and greatest for cancer patients, so we can offer that to them when they need it," says Benincosa.

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